Team Records: Phoenix (17-36) at Portland (25-28)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM
Vegas Line: Portland -5.5
Refs: Gary Zielinski, Tre Maddox, Violet Palmer
The Skinny: The all star break came at the right time for Portland, which entered on a five game skid, and will look to begin anew in the final game before the trade deadline. Phoenix will look to end a four game losing streak of their own, and they are certainly capable of doing so, having beaten some quality teams, like Memphis and Chicago, on the road earlier this year.
Last Time They Met: It was a tale of two halves as Phoenix dominated the opening half but Lillard and Portland the second. Lillard scored a game high 25 points, with 18 of those coming in the second half, as Portland beat Phoenix in their typical heart-stopping fashion, 96-93.
Projected Suns Lineup:
PF-Luis Scola (Argentina-6th Season) 12.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.4 APG.
SF-PJ Tucker (Texas-2nd Season)-5.5 PPG, 4 RPG, 1.3 APG.
C-Marcin Gortat (Poland-5th Season)-11.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.3 APG
SG-Jared Dudley (Boston College-5th Season)-11.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.5 APG.
PG-Goran Dragic (Slovenia-5th Season)-14 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 6.3 APG
Player to Watch-Goran Dragic (pictured at right)- Following in the steps of future hall of famer Steve Nash is a tough task for any player, and it is impossible for him to come close to what Nash did for the Suns. Still, Dragic is no slouch. Dragic is an aggressive attacking point guard who can finish well with his left hand, and draws plenty of fouls to boot. His passing is not great but its improving, and his turnovers are slightly down this season. Dragic is a very good defender as well, being the ideal size defensively for a point guard, he has good instincts and is rarely caught out of position. He may be no Nash but he’s a solid starting PG for the Suns as they look to rebuild.
Did You Know?: Like the Blazers the Suns are masters of the big comeback, with three victories in games they trailed by 19 or more.
Song of the Day: “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World-A good song by one of Phoenix’s best known bands. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), Questionable-SG Wesley Matthews (Ankle/Elbow).
Phoenix: Out-PF Channing Frye (Enlarged Heart)
Re-Evaluating the Suns: Setting Proper Expectations
Look the Suns got off to a bad start and had every reason to fire head coach Alvin Gentry. When a team is losing certainly one of the first things to go is the head coach and perhaps he needed to go. The problem with Phoenix, however, is that they set unrealistic expectations, making it clear that they thought they were a playoff team this season. That was, to be frank, completely nuts since their roster simply lacked the talent to even think about a playoff push. Look every team wants to win and do so as much as possible, but you’re setting yourself up to fail if you aim too high too fast.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: Hold Phoenix under 100 points. The Suns are going to give up a fair number of points but they will also probably score a fair bit as well. If Portland can keep Phoenix under the century mark, they should end their losing streak.
Phoenix wins if: They have a good night from deep. Phoenix relies heavily on the three point shot to win games. If they can make them on Saturday, they should be able to end their own losing streak.